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All that glitters is not platinum on the ASX

Okay, so none of us like paying over a dollar a litre for petrol, but at least we have got some.

Friends visiting Perth from Zimbabwe tell me there is hardly a drop to be had in the capital of Harare. Motorists are queuing for up to five kilometres in the hope of buying a cupful of petrol, and the situation is getting worse.

Fuel destined for Zimbabwe is being held up at the Mozambique port of Beira, because there is no money to pay for it.

Much of the fuel that does get into the country is commandeered by the military for the war in the Congo. Critics say it makes no sense for Zimbabwe to spend up to US$1 million a day participating in a war more than 1,000 kilometres from its border.

Inflation is running at 70 per cent. The Zimbabwe dollar was devalued on August 1 from 38 to the US dollar to 50.

Meanwhile, the Government has announced the takeover of a further 229 privately owned farms, bringing the total of mainly white owned farms slated to be grabbed by the State to 3,270.

Some Zimbabweans are hoping that, since matters cannot get much worse, they have the potential to get better. If anyone fancies a pin-your-ears-back punt on that possibility, ponder the shares of Australian-listed Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats).

The company, which is 5I per cent owned by the conspicuously unlucky Delta Gold, plans to resuscitate the closed Hartley platinum prospect it acquired from BHP.

The Hartley complex is said to contain the world’s largest undeveloped source of platinum in its Great Dyke prospect, 500 kilometres down the centre of the country.

Zimplats were trading as high as 76c last year and have since skidded to 27c.

Before you call your broker, consider that President Robert Mugabe made a threat to nationalise foreign mines during his pre-election ranting.

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